Wait, we almost forgot: It’s Valentine’s Day! Over at The Independent, John Walsh wonders if we’ve “lost the art of writing love letters”? And at FiveChapters.com, Lynne Tillman offers part one of her story “Love Sentences,” which (so far) examines the evolution of love letters, and introduces us to a character who seems especially attuned to the gap between feeling and text: “I want ecstasy, not evidence.”

Ahmed Fouad Negm, photo by Dana Smillie/Polaris, for the New York Times

The Paris Review’s poetry editor Robyn Creswell has a fascinating essay in yesterday’s Times about the role of authors in Egyptian society and in the January 25th revolution. Creswell notes that “for the crowds in Tahrir, now is above all a time for poetry, and the muse of the moment may be Ahmed Fouad Negm,” the dissident poet who has spent many years in jail, and wrote this oft-chanted poem: “They are the rich, and the government is on their side. / We are the poor, the governed. / Think about it, use your head. / See which one of us rules the other.”

The much-anticipated Los Angeles Review of Books has a new launch date (April), a bigger budget, and a strong lineup of writers.

Novelist Tao Lin on bad press: “Extreme negative reviews are helpful and fun.”

At the Book Bench, Macy Halford explains why Zadie Smith, the new book critic at Harper’s, “will help to create a brave new world of reviewing.”

After a long stretch of living in and writing about Brooklyn, where he was a fixture of the borough’s literary scene, Jonathan Lethem is settling into his new teaching gig at Pomona college in southern California (where David Foster Wallace taught). Lethem is at work on what he calls a “big crazy” book entitled the Ecstasy of Influence (named after his notorious Harper’s piece), which will be published this fall. Is it a novel, a collection of essays, or something else? All of the above, and more, as Lethem describes the new volume to Jacket Copy’s Carolyn Kellogg: “it has fiction and nonfiction, and even a poem, and then lots of new interstitial material. Some of it provocative, bragging, self-flagellating—this is going to be a very messy collection of stuff.”

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